The Montgomery ISD board of trustees approved the purchase of staff and student ID badges June 28 that will be required to be visibly worn on campuses starting in the 2022-23 school year in an effort to improve safety and security. Trustees voted unanimously June 28 to approve the purchase, which totals $87,566 in startup costs, Executive Director of Technology Amanda Davis said during a presentation to trustees.

“MISD is a growing school district, and those safety and security measures are more important than ever to ensure our students are attending schools and they’re not having to worry about whether or not we have intruders on our campus, and it also helps us improve efficiencies within our schools as well,” Davis said.

Superintendent Heath Morrison said the decision to implement ID badges was in discussion before a shooting left 21 people dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24. However, he said enhancing safety and security in the district has become more urgent.

“It is our highest priority each and every day to keep the safety of our staff and students foremost in what we do,” Morrison said during the meeting. “The urgency has increased since what happened in our great state of Texas most recently.”

The district’s purchase includes 7,000 student ID cards for secondary students in grades 9-12 and 14,000 cards for pre-K through eighth grade, Davis said. The district is ordering enough ID cards for younger students to have two cards—one to wear as identification and one to clip on backpacks for dismissal.

These ID cards will allow the district to decrease the risk of unidentified visitors and reduce unsecured doors on campuses, Davis said. As all students and staff will be required to wear a badge, unidentified visitors on campus will be easier to spot.

While the district is still working through logistics for the new program, Davis said students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade will have the ID card clipped on the back of their collar. Students in grades 2-12 will wear a lanyard with the ID card.

“That’s going to be a retraining of staff and students to make sure every single student, every single staff member wears that badge with fidelity,” Davis said.

In addition, secondary students who leave or arrive campuses early for programs such as Ready, Set, Teach or athletics, for example, will be able to access doors with their ID card instead of doors being left unlocked or a single person in charge of vetting visitors, Davis said.

“When we have those trickling in of students, right now there is somebody at the front of the building that basically has to monitor those cameras all the time, and they will let anyone in through the doors,” Davis said.

ID cards can also be used to check out books from the library and are expected to decrease time in cafeteria lines and improve efficiency with dismissal, she said. In the future, the district plans to add technology that will allow bus tracking via ID cards to ensure students are dropped off at the right location, for example, and use ID cards to take attendance, manage admission to school events, and check in at the nurse’s or counselor’s offices so staff knows where students are in an emergency.

In addition to startup costs, Davis said she anticipates annual costs for the ID program and supplies, such as badge materials, lanyards and clips, will total around $41,000. Davis said a replacement ID badge would cost a student approximately $5.

The program will be phased in at campuses, Davis said, as the ID cards have a 10-week wait time, which will push the implementation past the first day of school.

Morrison said communication will be sent to families outlining expectations for the ID cards in the coming weeks.

“We also want to make sure that we are kind of changing the mindset that every single student and every single staff member wears badges, just so that way when we are walking on campus, every single person knows to ask for identification when you’re walking around,” Davis said. “We want every student to be vigilant in knowing that is an expectation of our district—whether you’re a contractor, whether or not you’re a maintenance worker, whether you’re a superintendent, you always have a badge on you; you always have that identification.”